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The Perkins Journal
Perkins, Oklahoma
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January 23, 1936     The Perkins Journal
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January 23, 1936
 

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THE PERKINS I II I I [ I JOURNAL l l FLAME IN THE FOREST .... By HAROLD TITUS CopyrightwNubYservlce.Harold Titus. Illustrations by Irwin Myers SYNOPSIS Kerry Young. a lad of seven, is pre- pared to flee the burning lumber camp of his benefactor, Jack Snow. who took the YOUngster to live with h'lm at the death of Kerry's mother. Ted V'est has instructed Kerry to come with a rile containing the camp's funds should it be endangered. Flames attack the of- rice, and Kerry, hugging the precious rile, and Ted race to town. Ted acts queerly. At the bank the file is found empty and Kerry is blamed with taking the wrong one. Snow, his headquarters and money gone, is ruined, and soon thereafter dies, leaving Kerry to the Poor Commissioner. Kerry suspects Ted and swears to even the score. In a St. Paul office Kerry. now in manhood, and an expert woodsman, learns of the whereabouts of West. Kerry rescues a lovely girl from a scoundrel, who proves to be West, Ted threatens to pauperize the girl, Nan Downer. She thanks Ker- ry and tells him of the robbery, and murder of her father and of Ted's ad- vances. She is operating a lumber tract which her father had purchased from West Kerry makes camp. At the gen- eral store in West's Landing, be finds Ted engaged Jn a poker game. CHAPTER IVContinued 4 "Danm Mel's cigars:" said West be- neath his breath, tossing his smoke away and making a wry face. "Repel" He gazed over his shoulder toward the storekeeper, occupied behind his coun- ter, as if he would speak. Then he looked back. "Count me out a hand," he said. "I'll run over to the house and get a real smoke." He rose .and went Intently out and Young wondered. Did West so much dislike confronting him even across a poker table after what had happened that afternoon that he had fled? Or was it something else which moved him to leave? The game went on. four-handed, and under relieved tension. West's place was vacant through one round and part of another. On his reurn to the table, the good- natured atmosphere which had pre- vailed for those last few hands dis. appeared. Again, it was a gambling contest, although Ted's talk was, out- wardly, all that it had been before he knew that Kerry Young was In the room .... Still, that feeling of ap- prehension, of something afoot, grew stronger in Young's heart. It was West's deal. He riffled the cards twice adeptly and cut them for a third time. His fingers bent them, sent them fluttering against one an. other, and then two or three of the pack leaped from his clasp, slid across the table and spilled into his lap. "Need a basket!" he growled and. shoving back his chair, stooplng over, groped for cards on the floor. He found them, all right! He found and gathered them in the hand w]alch held the deck. But his other hand "Count Me Out a Hand," He Said. slid a second deck from beneath his belt and when he came up the one pack was thrust into the little stein shelf beneath the table top while it was the new one he thrust reward Jim Hlnkle for the cut .... Korry Young did not know this. But his heart rapped smartly with suspi- cion. "Out 'era, James!" tbe man said. "And cut 'era deep because I've got anOther feeling about this hand!" He looked about and grinned, more affable than he had been since Kerry entered the game. Hinkle cut; West beamed and . . "slipped" the cut! Young saw that clearly. Back to the top of the deck went the section Hlnkle cut y and West was dealing, talking, chuckling over some Joke he had made but to which Kerry gave no heed. To find Ted West playing the role of ruthless aggressor this afternoon; to find him cheating at cards tonight . . . and after all these years of suspicion and resentment! To the tourist at Ted's left a king, next a four, to Young a seven, to Jim Hlnkle a queen and to himself, a six spot. "The king," said it possessor, "will risk $ dollar," Kerry looked at his down card. It was the nine of spades.., and a nine of spades without a bent corner ! The deck had been switched, he knows The man at his left came in; Kerry, thinking quickly, pa'hsed and caught a little flicker of misgiving on Ted West's face. The man wanted hlm in! He tossed a dollar bill to the pot, "And a dollar!" said Jim Hinkle promptly and Ted nodded wisely. "That queen must be proud of her- self again. Queens ruined Sawyer, James. Well, I'll trail along." The rest, also, saw the raise. To(/ set the deck on the table before him, ostentatiously, Kerry believed. He hitched his chair closer to the table and dealt, taking cards one at a tlme from the pack. The showing king drew a ten spot; the four caught a nine. Young was given a deuce and beside Hinkle's queen dropped another .... "Oh-oh !" muttered Ted. "You must're felt her coming,"---turning himself a king, Excitement showed in Jim Hlnkle's sallow face. Why shouldn't it? With queens back-to-back, and now a third? And two kings showing in two hands? "Ten dollars," he said and his voice was too eager. "Well, now, James . . . I'm Just a little bit proud of what I've got. I've beaten those dam' queens once or twice tonight. I'll Just tilt it a mite thls time to try my luck. Let's bet twen- ty-five and keep the retailers out I" The man at his left folded; the sec- ond hesitated and again Kerry caught that little flash of misgiving In West's eye. He wanted them all out now; all except Jim Htnkle who was already fingering his money, ready to call or raise. The second tourist folded and Kerry silently shoved his cards away. "Raisin' fifteen, TodT' Jim asked and this time his voice was husked. "That's the way I feel. I'll back at yOU !" West rubbed his chin and grinned. "By gosh," he said, as if in chagrin. 'By gosh, Jimmy, you tryin' to beat meT' An onlooker laughed. "I think you're downright tryln' to take my money and that ain't quite right .... Back at you with twenty!" His voice snapped on this last and the watchers crowded closer to the chair backs. "Well, seeln' as you've got so much confidence and seein' as how we've got cards retain' . . . CaltF' Three cards were dealt, now, with two showing; a pair of queens, with a lone king against them. From the top of the deck, lying so openly before him, West picked an ace and flipped it toward his adversary, For himself he turned a nine-spot. "'The queens bet twenty-five bucks i" Jim's voice was tight "And the king will see the twenty- five and raise tent" said West mel- lowly. Hlnkle shifted his weight. He wet his lips and looked nervously at Ted's hand. Then, as if deciding on caution after a struggle, he called. HIS stack of bills was thin, now; the heap of currency in the center had attained considerable size. "Now for the last heat, Jimmy. To you, m' lad, a trey, and to me,"-- hesitating as he looked at the card he turned from tim deck and let a smile cross his face--"to me. the king of diamonds !" So that was lt i Kerry thought to himself. Obviously, Hinkle had threes. Ted, from a cold deck, had dealt him- self the case king. West was sttting back In his chair, smiling coolly. The place had grown very still. Well over two hundred dol- lars had been bet so far and West was smiling at the distraught Jim Hln- kle as a man will who is most sure of himself. "Beat the kings," West said. "If you can and care tol" Jim cleared his throat. He counted his money slowly and said, "I'm betting fifty dollars," and as he shoved in the last af his money Young heard the breath catch in his throat. Ted West began to laugh. "Them queens 1" he said. have to learn about women from reel I beat 'era with aces once tonight. Now, it's kings .... Kings beat queens, Jimmy? Three? You got three of the gals?"and Hlnkle strained for- ward as West began turning his hole card. "Three queens." the man said husk- lly. "That's what I figured, along at the last. So I Just called, you bein' out of cash. My kings, James. retched 'emselves a triplet, too!" Hlnkle slumped back In hls chair weakly. In the depths of his eyes was acute distress. "Caught the caser !" Ted West was saying as he reached forward with both hands for the pot. 'Caught the caser and--" "Just a minutei" It was Kerry Young's voice, with snap and iron In it; and Kerry Young's hand lay in an arresting grasp on West's wrist. Ted broke short his speech, He plunged a look hard Into this strang- er's face. "Jim. how much did you lose In this pot?" Kerry asked. "You were even. you said. a while ago." "Hunderd 'n' eighteen," said Hlnkle unsteadily. Young nodded. "A hundred and eighteen doIlars l" That's too much to lose--" "What comes off here.O" West, r covering himself, shook off Kerry's hand and drew back. Color gushed darkly into his face. "What gee8 on here? You weren't even in this potS" "No. You didn't want me in." "Makes no damn difference to me, what you do. But you were not. it's my pot. If you want to post-mortem here, whatever your name is, Just string along and huy the right." "I've the right, now !" Young's mouth twitched and he was a bit pale. "My financial interest in this pot is noth- ing. But I've an interest in It beside that. I've been sitting in the game and when I see a man strlpped of his last dollar on a crooked deal--" Ted was on hls feet. a rush of crim- son rage flooding his face. and his right hand was whipping at his breast, jerking open the shirt. Buttons gave, exposing the sweat-stained strap across his chest and the segment of shoulder holster. It happened quickly; with such des- perate quickness that Young could not hope for escape by flight, Before him was the table. To right and left were seated card players, too amazed and shocked and fuddled to be aware of what impended, let alone to be able to move quickly. And so he did all that there re- mained to do. He rose. with a wift, flowing move- ment. As he rose, his hand dropped Into hls coat pocket. "Stop it !" he snapped and his voice was a rasp and as West's baleful eyes caught the lift of that coat, saw the rigid projection within the pocket, he added in a half whisper: "Put 'era up, Quick, or I'll . . ." The great band, clutching at the pistol grip in that shoulder holster, hesitated.' Young's volce was imperl- ous, his manner commanding. "Up, now! Smartly, Ted West l ... Hlgh .... Higher than that!" Slowly, West obeyed, pantlng as he stood there, swaying Just a little; and then the rest stampeded for safety. The two stood there, facing one an- other across the table, West's eyes glassy, a stringer of spittle at the corner of his mouth ; and Kerry Young, the stranger, hand steady In his Jacket pocket, was smiling oddly. "Next," he said. "you will turn around so I can take your toy away. You won't be harmed, but neither will T, L Now, '--as West hesitated. 'Face to the wall, or I may have to . . ." Once more, he left a threat unfin- Ished. For an instant longer West held iris ground and then tim hand in that pocket twitched, He turned at the ominous gesture and slowly faced the wall. Quickly, with a light tread, Young stepped close behind him. A prodding projection pressed the small of the larger man's back. Young's free hand went over the other's shoulder, inside hls shirt and dragged out the flat, ugly automatic. From the doorway a man swore in surprise. Ted West carrying a gun? It was incrediblel "Now," the stranger was saying as he backed away, "you may do as you damned please r' Ted chose to turn and face Young who was halted in mid room, cynosure for all eyes. The hand which had coy. ered West was still in his side pock- et; that sharp, menacing projection mlli held firmly against the cloth. And then the hand came out, slowly, os- tentatiously, dragging with it the pock- et lining. The lining of the pocket and a straight-stemmed plpel One explosive guffaw preceded a wave of incredulous murmurs. Then these subsided as Kerry withdrew the clip from West's pistol, ejected the cartridges from the chamber and spilled the ammunition into his palm, He dropped tim pipe into his pock- et and held the unloaded gun toward Its owner. With a contemptuous ges- ture he sent the cartridges scattering across the floor, plopping and rattling in the stillness, and then he laughed, a rising, chesty laugh as West, face ashen and agllsten with sweat, dumbly accepted hts weapon. 'q?here's your toy, Ted West," he said as the man, a-churn with chagrin, "Now!"--as West Hesitated "Face to the Wall." amazeulelJ[ 'ind. l)erlt;ti)s, n species of relief, took it from his hand. "You may gather your ammunition later[" Voices were murmuring, like the dis- tant sound of a storm, Someone laughed, another swore and a third said : "Damned bluff[ And as for Ted's cheatin' at cards--" Reputations die hard l Young swept the room with his eyes. "As for his cheating," he said even ly. "The money on the table belongs to those who had invested. You will find that the nine of spades, lying there with the money, is a perfect card. The nine of spades in the deck which was dealt the last time, has a bent corner. No one called for a new deck: no chane In decks was men tioned. It is my guess that on the stein shelf before the chair occupied recently by Mr. Ted West, good citl- zen, may be found--" "You rat !" At last. West had found voice. "You rat!" he cried again. "Other decks? . . . Course there are! You c'n find a half dozen on the stein shelf !" But hls bluster was not convincing. He had not regained his self-posses- sion. "Perhaps," said Kerry wlth a shrug. "Perhaps, West. You may be able to alibi yourself neatly, but you know and I know!" He went slowly forward a few steps. "Know me, West?" he asked. "Know me? Never saw me, oh? . . . Maybe, then, It'll refresh your memory to re- call things. "After I saw you steal from Jim here; after I saw you cheat a poor man for a few dollars, Ted West . . after I saw your smallness now, I say, then I knew that I didn't take the wrong letter-file the day old .Tack Snow went broke!" Color drained from Ted's face but Into his eyes came a glitter, a craft, covering and subduing the gush of insane temper such as had swept them when he reached for his gun, yonder at the card table. He did not speak at once. He may have known that this brazen youth had not convinced all who had watched of his duplicity; that a withering gesture had not whol- ly wrecked the place he had built for himself in this country. "Don't you know me?" Kerry taunt- ed when he did not speak. "Don't you remember me at all? . . . i'm Young; Kerry Young.... And I toJk out the file you told me to take, that day old Jack had his death blow l" West spoke, then, thickly. "Young?" He shook hla head. "I know no Young .... Wrong file? Jack Snow?" A contortion crossed his court. tenance. "It all means nothing to me. Who you are, what you are . . . I don't know. Except this: you're a rat !" A man growled: "We're with you, Ted! You're no crook!" Kerry shrugged. "Fair enough," he said and smiled in triumph. "It answers the one ques- tlon that's . . . bothered me. You've come a long ways, Ted West, from a thieving, burning bookkeeper. It's hard for men to think their king can do wrong, I see. But . . . step carefully, Ted West. I've sowed seed tonight; some seed always sprouts!" He hitched at his belt with a frank- ly swaggering gesture. "After all these years, the Job was done qulckly; in mere hours. And now I . . . I can be on my way." He turned on his heel and made slowly for the door. A buzzing murmur filled the room. Eyes were on Kerry, on Ted Weal standing there wlthmuch seethtng In him. He had a role to play, this West. He had a reputation at stake, loyal- ties to consider . . . perhaps things to fear. His place in the country was in the balance, he knew. But the charge of cheating at cards was too fantastic, too incredible In the minds of these other men to be of more than passing consequence if he played his role properly, as a respected leader should. He found voice at last. "Hold np there, you [" Kerry was at the threshol ft. Lie turned, smiling that bitter smile. "You're a rat!" West said again heavily. "You're a . " . damned rat! What's the idea, tryin' to make me out a crook? Blackmail? "I never seen or heard of you: And I've only this to say, after callln' you a rat. Just this: you'd best be (m your way come sun-up! Your kind's not wanted here!" Kerry lifted a hand to scratch a temple slowly. "That's tough on me, Ted West," he sald. 'Tin through, here. I stumbled on the thing I've wqnted to know for years. And I'd like to be gone. being the roaming kind. But if there's one thing I'm more afraid of than taking root it's . . . it's being driven. Ted West [" He began to laugh. "So I've got to stay! I've got to llght a while!" Lie went out into the darkness and" his deep laughter floated back to them. A fierce exultation racked him and he did not look about; did not see Nan Downer standing there in the edge of the light shaft from a window, one hand spread across her breast. CHAPTER V At about the tlme Kerry Young was finishing his evening meal, Nan Dow- ner and Ezra Adams, short, squat, gray - haired logging . country doctor who had driven out 'from Shoestring, the county seat, walked slowly across the trestle from Nan's headquarters to West's Landing. The old man listened attentively and unconsciously slowed his pace as the girl's story progressed toward its cli- max. Her voice, though low, was quick and tense, and once it caught in a sob. "And that's that, Ezra!, she said tremulously. "It's me or . .. or the property. Oh,"  with sudden bitter- ness--"I've had a feeling all along that he wasn't the man the country thinks him to be .t,, "That's your womanly Intuition. And my opinion was s . . . doctor's, I guess." They talked for a ttvfie, standing in the dnsk and then the girl Said: "Now, for Jim and Elsie Hlnkle's troubles!" and led him resolutely on. They entered a tar Paper house where a woman washed dishes by the light of a kerosenelamp, her mouth set in an expression of forbearance. In a chair, his one leg strapped be. tween wooden splints, a five-year-old boy played with s battered toy. At sight of the physician he began to yelp excitedly and threw the toy vio- lently away. "Unc' Ezra! Unc, Ezra l" he cried, his face shining. , (TO BE CONTINUED) Eyes in Top of Head Bottom-feedingsalt.water fishes ass rule have eyes high In the head nd gazing upward. They may, indeed, be squarely on the crown, as in the fero- cious "angler" or goose,fish, in skatem and rays, and in the stargazers and their spiny relatives, Which alines bury themselves in the sand near shore watching to see and seize any Prel that may come.ar hem .... I